This Cubs player was picked as a top breakout candidate in 2023

Pittsburgh Pirates v Chicago Cubs
Pittsburgh Pirates v Chicago Cubs / David Banks/GettyImages

Even if the Cubs improve on their 2022 record - which seems likely given the offseason roster additions - a lot is going to have to go right for the club to punch its postseason ticket.

A bounceback performance from Cody Bellinger would go a long way toward giving the offense a shot in the arm, but it'll take more than that for the Cubs to seriously threaten the Cardinals' hold on the division or even sneak in via a Wild Card spot. Pairing a Bellinger bounceback with a Seiya Suzuki breakout season, though, could be enough to drastically transform this lineup.

Cubs: Seiya Suzuki has the makings of a big-time breakout candidate

That could be in in store, at least if you believe's preseason top 5 breakout hitter candidates rankings that had this to say about Suzuki.

"Suzuki’s rookie season was, by definition, fine. A 2.0 WAR and a 116 wRC+ are serviceable numbers. But given the quality of his swing decisions and ability to barrel the ball consistently, it feels like he is just scratching the surface." on Seiya Suzuki

As the piece notes, Suzuki's 2022 rookie campaign can be pretty cleanly split into three segments: a hot start, a period of injury and adjustments and a solid conclusion. The end result was a solid, if not spectacular, 111 games that clearly left him hungry for more heading into the winter, where he put on a notable amount of muscle before reporting to Arizona recently.

FanGraphs has Suzuki projected for a monster year: 26 home runs, 28 doubles, an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 131 wRC+. It's not hard to see why he's a prime breakout candidate: he showcased an eye-catching chase rate (90th percentile per Baseball Savant) and an above-average barrel rate, as well. Throw in high marks for his defensive work in right field and you have the makings of a star-in-the-making.

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A middle-of-the-order trio of Ian Happ, Bellinger and Suzuki has the makings of the stuff of dreams. Nothing can be taken for granted, of course, but this roster - headlined by Dansby Swanson - is dripping with potential and could very well be one to watch if you're looking for a team poised to outperform projections in 2023.